Danario had quite a dazzling debut
The Rams were tested by a San Diego Chargers team that looked like a sleepwalking last place team in the first half and then came alive in the 2nd half. The Rams did not help the cause by putting their offense into a shell in the 2nd half, praying for the defense to hold on. The Chargers were on paper the best team the Rams played so far in 2010 and the Rams were able to come away with a huge victory at home. The Rams have now won 3 games in a row at home in 6 games. The Rams have won as many games in 6 opportunities as they won in the last two seasons.
A huge surprise in the first half was the play of Danario Alexander who was elevated from the practice squad. The Rams featured him with a few early throws including a long TD pass in the first quarter. Alexander was able to get behind the corner easily and dove to catch the TD pass from Sam Bradford. Alexander was surprisingly active in the game coming off knee surgery after another injury during the Senior Bowl week. Alexander was getting ready for the draft process and because of the injury, he was not drafted and the Rams were able to add him to their practice squad.
The Rams lead 17-0 at one point before going into halftime up 17-3. The Chargers stopped the Rams offense in the first drive of the 2nd half and then Phillip Rivers drove his team down for seven points on a Mike Tolbert goal line dive. At that point, it was a huge drive for the Rams to rest their defense and put some more points on the board. They went 3 times in a row to Steven Jackson and got a first down, but got stopped at midfield.
The Rams went into the 4th quarter leading by 7 with the football. The offense had done nothing to that point in the second half. They continued to pile up the punts and continued to put the pressure on their defense. Against the San Diego Chargers dynamic offense, even without All-World TE Antonio Gates, this is not a good strategy.
But, the Rams defense answered the call with 2 sacks in the 2nd half to add to the 5 in the first half. James Hall had the crucial sack on a bull rush against former holdout Marcus McNeil to stall the Chargers drive inside Rams territory. Then Hall was able to block Nate Kaeding’s field goal as the San Diego kicker slipped on the play. It cannot be understated how big the Rams defensive line played when everything was asked of them. Before the Hall sack, Chris Long drew a hold on former Ram Randy McMichael. Then on 3rd down, the Rams pressure forced a scramble and throw away by Phillip Rivers.
The Rams offense got the ball with great field position and then moved the ball down into field goal range at the 20 yard line. A scramble from Sam Bradford was brought back to the 30 yard line and Josh Brown was brought in with the change to make the game a 2 score game. He blasted his 47-yard field goal straight through the uprights and it would have been good from 60 plus yards.
Just when the Rams went up 2 scores, the Rams defense let down and allowed the San Diego offense to go 76 yards in 40 seconds for the touchdown. The Rams showed very little resistance on the drive and then put the pressure on the Rams offense to get a few first downs to win the game.
The Rams offense got the ball back on a traditional kickoff and ran the football into the line two times in a row with Steven Jackson setting up a long 3rd down play. They put it in the hands of Steven Jackson who ran for the biggest first down of the game to that point. Jackson was provided good blocks for the first few yards, but fought through tackles to get the first down. He was given the ball twice in a row on the next series and provided another first down that iced the game. The Rams then lined up in the victory formation to run the clock down to end the game.
The Rams did not dominate the Chargers, they had a few points where they let down. The offense went into too much of a shell in the 2nd half and the defense allowed the Chargers offense to score too quickly at the beginning of the second half. But, we ripped the Rams for being able to find a way to lose the first two games of the season. Against the Chargers, they did just enough as they found a way to win the game. It was not perfect, but the Rams played well enough to win and thanks to Danario Alexander, Fred Robbins, James Hall and of course Steven Jackson, the Rams were able to beat the Chargers in the Edward Jones Dome.